Header Graphic
beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Combs
Login  |  Register
Page: 1

8 posts
Oct 17, 2019
1:12 AM
How much difference do different combs make I only ask out of curiosity. Combs range from wood, plastic, to aluminium or a combination of wood and plastic.

I'm especially confused of the benefits of a wood covered in plastic comb surely it's more or less the same as a plastic comb?
6210 posts
Oct 17, 2019
5:05 AM
I’m not clear about the wood covered in plastic.
I know there is a resin comb with wood fibres mixed in ie the Manji comb. Is that what you mean?

Apart from that though I’ve some experience with various combs and materials.

For me, the interest in various materials for combs is about finding something which is stable and smooth.
Aluminium can be smooth but not especially stable and it’s ‘cold’ in the way of all metals.
It does impart a bright tone I think, compared to non-metal combs, but it’s relatively subtle.
‘Raw’ aluminium reacts with brass and water. Once it starts to ‘fizz’ it’s pretty nasty.
Brass is cold and heavy. It is stable. It sounds bright. I don’t like it as a comb material but I like it otherwise. I think it sounds very bright. First time I tried it I was fascinated but I didn’t like the weight and it made me nervous for my teeth. I was ambivalent about the sound but I’ve come around to the view I don’t care for it.
The ABS plastic used in Special 20 and Rocket combs is imho a really good comb material in practical ways. I can’t pick the sound against a wooden comb and it’s strong, stable, fairly heat resistant. I just like it.
Wooden combs are problematic in so far as they are susceptible to warping and swelling. Heat, moisture and dryness are enemies of wooden combs. Some are also quite fragile.
Stuff like Corian, that fake marble stuff made by DuPont, is ok but a bit cold sounding and brittle. It can be made very flat, and it’s waterproof and heat resistant. Tough stuff and colourful but it doesn’t bounce well.
The paper/resin material used by Andrew Zajac is kinda similar to wood but doesn’t warp easily and bounces better than Corian. I like it.

I don’t care for the Manji combs. They remind me of raw wood. They just feel bad to my tongue.

I haven’t tried those acrylic combs. I read complaints about lack of flatness once years ago and I immediately lost interest. I reckon they sound like the wood combs but I don’t know.

Bamboo is great material I think but Hohner think they own it so they shut down everyone who was trying to do something with bamboo combs. I have some old Hetrick bamboo combs and love them.

I have a couple of (Brendan) Power Combs in my 270s. They are 3D printed. I like those a lot

I’ve tried various types of wooden combs. They all sound like a wooden comb to me but some were in great harps.

I really don’t care for the stock comb in the Seydel Session Steel. I think they are very cheap and inconsistent quality but those harps are well-loved by many so may just be my prejudice
9 posts
Oct 17, 2019
5:46 AM
the Manji comb. Is that what you mean? Yes I was referring to the Manji. The Andrew Zajac comb is only £22 here in the UK. I'll have to take it they do sound like Pear wood. If I buy another harmonica I might consider a Suzuki Pro Master and buy one of his combs.

Post a Message

(8192 Characters Left)

Modern Blues Harmonica supports

§The Jazz Foundation of America


§The Innocence Project




ADAM GUSSOW is an official endorser for HOHNER HARMONICAS